Yesterday an English language daily which has a fairly good circulation carried a double column front page report about a gentleman in dhoti being denied admission to an elite Chennai club. The newspaper devoted 2 columns x 20 cms space to this piece!
The facts as reported are: an ‘honorary advisor’ to a Government of India department was invited by an organization to a function it was holding at the club (name not mentioned in the report). The man turned up clad in a dhoti but was refused admission because it was in violation of the club’s dress code. He went to a shop, bought a pair of trousers, wore them and was allowed in.
Then comes the ballyhoo. The man writes to the Chief Minister. And he tells the press, “The behavior of these clubs is nothing but a reflection of their continued slavishness to our former Western masters”, and adds for good measure, “English language dictionaries say that the dhoti or veshti is formal attire”.
One can understand the man’s ego being hurt. Now, I was also an honorary advisor to the Government of India, on national disaster management policy, about nine years back. I too was once denied admission to an elite Chennai club, most probably the same one as in this case, for violation of dress code. I went there for lunch wearing a round neck T-shirt, and trousers of course. The offending piece here was the T-shirt. So, the ban is not only against the dhoti.
I know at least two reputed clubs in Kerala, which allow dhoti, but not folding it up. The point is that a club, unlike a restaurant or a town hall, is a private association of people and they the members, decide how it should be run. They set the rules and regulations.
To be fair to the newspaper, it also presents the view of a city lawyer that the clubs are entitled to prescribe a dress code. She said, “It would be difficult to challenge this in court.”
Some Clubs of India